BTRC frustrated as GP, BL take only a 3rd of available spectrum

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:05, Feb 14,2018 | Updated: 00:03, Feb 14,2018


Team members of Grameenphone and Banglalink are seen at the spectrum auction held at Dhaka Club in the city on Tuesday. Post, telecommunication and information technology minister Mustafa Jabbar and BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood were also present. — New Age photo

Two mobile phone operators—Grameenphone and Banglalink— purchased only 15.6 Megahertz spectrum out of 46.4 MHz spectrum from auction floor, dissatisfying the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
Of the spectrum sold, the third largest mobile phone operator purchased 10.6MHz spectrum including 5MHz in 2100MHz band and 5.6MHz in 1800MHz band, while the leading mobile phone operator Grameenphone bought only 5MHz spectrum in 1800MHz band from the auction organised by BTRC at Dhaka Club on Tuesday.
Each MHz of spectrum in 2100MHz was sold at $ 27 million, while per MHz spectrum in 1800MHz were sold at $ 31 million.
The floor price of each megahertz spectrum was $ 27 million in 2100MHz band and $ 30 million in 1800MHz and 900MHz respectively.
At the auction, Banglalink was the only bidder for each megahertz spectrum in 1800MHz band while GP just supported Banglalink’s offer at the same price.
Banglalink, the only participant for the 2100MHz band, refrained from making any bid for the 2100MHz spectrum, while no operator seemed interested to purchase spectrum from 900MHz.
BTRC from the auction earned a total of Tk 3,843 crore including Tk 1,284 crore from Grameenphone and another Tk 2,558 crore from Banglalink.
Besides the auction earnings, the telecom regulator earned another Tk 1,425 crore against issuance of tech-neutrality facility to the mobile phone operators.
GP participated in the auction for 1800MHz spectrum band and Banglalink participated in 2100MHz and 1800MHz spectrum band, while none of the two mobile operators were interested about 900MHz spectrum band.
The second largest mobile phone operator Robi and out-of-operation Citycell refrained from participating in the auction as they did not submit bid earnest money despite showing interest initially.
BTRC director general brigadier general Nasim Parvez, who conducted the auction, said that GP and Banglalink would be allowed to purchase spectrum at auction price in next six months.
Robi, Citycell and Teletalk, however, would not get the scope as they did not participate in the auction.
At the auction ceremony, expressing dissatisfaction over the mobile phone operators participation
and sale of only 33 per cent of the spectrum, BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood said, ‘We are definitely not satisfied.’
He said that the existing spectrum held by the mobile phone operators would not be enough to provide quality service to the subscribers.
In Bangladesh, mobile operators serve 10-15 times higher number of customers by one megahertz of spectrum against the number of customers serviced by a megahertz of spectrum in Malaysia and Germany, the BTRC chief said.
He said that Grameenphone served 20 lakh people with one megahertz spectrum, Banglalink served 16 lakh and Robi served 12 lakh people with the same amount of spectrum.
While, Malaysian Celcom Axiata served only 1.86 lakh people with a megahertz of spectrum, another operator of the country Maxis served two lakh people with one megahertz spectrum, Mahmood said.
In Germany, Vodafone served only 2.2 lakh people or subscribers with a megahertz of spectrum, he said.
Spectrum auction was the beginning toward improving quality of service of the mobile phone operators, Mahmood said, adding that the spectrum auction would help by providing some comfort.
He also warned the mobile phone operators that the commission would focus on ensuring quality of service in the days ahead.
The posts, telecommunication and information technology minister Mustafa Jabbar also spoke about the poor service quality of the mobile phone operators including repeated call drop and poor internet speed.
‘The people of the country is not taking the mobile phone service as grant or charity from the mobile phone operators, they are paying for this,’ Mustafa Jabbar said.
Earlier mobile phone operators used to blame none issuance of tech neutrality and lack of spectrum as reasons behind the poor service quality, he said.
Now, there would be no compromise regarding service quality as all the facilities have already been provided by the government, the telecom minister said.
After Tuesday’s auction, GP has a total of 37MHz spectrum in its possession in three bands including 5MHz spectrum that was bought on the day and Banglalink’s spectrum holding increased to 30.6MHz spectrum from 20HMz.
Robi holds total 36.4MHz spectrum in all the bands and Teletalk has 25.2MHz spectrum under its possession.
Robi has 9 MHz spectrum in 900MHz band, 17.4 MHz in 1800 MHz and 10MHz in 2100MHz bands.
Teletalk has 5.2MHz spectrum in its possession in 900MHz band, 10MHz in 1800MHz band and 10MHz in 2100MHz band.
Citycell has 8.82 MHz CDMA spectrum in 800MHz for inside Dhaka central zone and 6.3MHz for rest of the country. 

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